Grace's Guide To British Industrial History

Registered UK Charity (No. 115342)

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 163,160 pages of information and 245,627 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

W. A. and A. C. Churchman

From Graces Guide
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of Ipswich, London and Norwich.

The firm of W.A. and A.C. Churchman was founded in Ipswich by William Churchman in 1790, beginning as a small pipe tobacco manufacturer with a shop at Hyde Park Corner in Ipswich.

In 1888 William Alfred Churchman and Arthur Charles Churchman (later Lord Woodbridge and a director of the British American Tobacco from 1904 to 1923), grandsons of the founder, succeeded their father, Henry, in the business. It was from them that the Company derived its title. At that time output was mainly shag, snuff and tobacco.

By 1890 the Company was also making 'white cigarettes', and six years later installed one of the first cigarette-making machines, producing 20,000 cigarettes an hour; the famous 'Churchman's No. 1' brand dates from this period.

In 1891 Churchmans opened a new factory in Portman Road, Ipswich.

In 1890 James Buchanan Duke of North Carolina merged his family tobacco business, W. Duke Sons & Co., with four of the largest American manufacturers to form the American Tobacco Company, which by 1901 had amassed capital to the equivalent of £150 million sterling. An aggressive assault was launched on the British cigarette market, Duke making no secret of his authority to spend up to £6 million of American Tobacco Company money on the acquisition of British and European tobacco companies.

To counter this threat, W. D. and H. O. Wills, John Player and Sons (Player's), Lambert and Butler, Hignett Brothers (with their associated firms) and Stephen Mitchell and Son, with six other firms, joined forces to found the Imperial Tobacco Co in 1901.

The following year Churchmans joined the new company. Churchmans' Portman Road factory was extended several times during the inter-war years. From at least as early as 1918 to at least as late as 1944 they also had a small branch in Norwich, of which very little documentation appears to have survived (see HC446/2).

In 1961 W.A. and A.C. Churchman amalgamated with Lambert & Butler and Edwards, Ringer and Bigg, to become first Churchman, Lambert & Ringer, then renamed Churchmans in 1965. By now production was concentrated on the manufacturing of cigars, and in August 1966 Churchmans acquired the firm of Herbert Merchant, the main UK agents for the Dutch cigar producers Henri Wintermans.

With a work force of over 1,000, the Ipswich factory produced more than 1,000,000 cigars a day. But in 1972 the company ceased to be a separate brand of Imperial Tobacco Co; the cigar business was integrated with John Player and Sons, and the tobacco interests with Ogdens of Liverpool.

Finally, in May 1992, in order to streamline operations, the parent company moved all production to Bristol, and Churchmans closed with the loss of over four hundred jobs.

See Tortoise-Shell

See Also

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Sources of Information

  • [1] National Archives